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Mythical motifs are similar to Animal Motifs, but with mythical creatures being used as symbols. They, like animals, can be used to underline something important in the plot or to convey a character's personality. A particularly tough and quick-tempered character may be compared to a dragon, or a MacGuffin or delicate-but-powerful or wise character may be compared to a unicorn.

It can also be the use of mythology as a motif.

Here is a partial list of mythical creatures:


  • Dragon: (Western) Solitary, violent, fire breathing, greedy, dangerous. May eat people or bury hoards of treasure.
  • Dragons Up the Yin-Yang: (Eastern) Power; strength; nobility; male; likes to play Hide and Seek with tigers; generally benevolent.
  • Griffin: Part lion, part eagle; noble, generally. Symbol of kingship/holy power.
  • Basilisk and Cockatrice: Two related creatures, often related to a rooster and/or salamander; nobody knows what they look like because anyone who looks on them dies instantly
  • Gorgon: Hideous monsters, causes people to turn to stone (from the Medusa myth)
  • Hydra: Many headed creature, where if you cut off one head, two more grow in its place.[1]
  • Pegasus (or winged horses in general): Freedom, high ideals, thought. Can be called "horse of the poets" thanks to his connection with Athena and the Muses, so is also linked with imagination, and writers in particular.
  • Phoenix: A flaming bird capable of rising again from the ashes: Death and rebirth; fire; eternal life; (Eastern) female.
  • Ouroboros: A serpent eating its own tail: Infinity, alchemy, death and rebirth; lives at the edge of the world or at its base
  • Sphinx: Cunning, mystery, riddles, desires. Terribly mysterious.
  • Unicorn: Purity, rarity, power (which goes against tradition, 'cause in heraldry they are chained down because they're violent MFs). Usually the last of its kind. Often associated with virgins.
  • Mermaid


Examples of Mythical Motifs include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, the Unicorn is the symbol of the Cool Ship White Base. Later on in life, Gundam pilot Amuro Ray adopts it as his own.
  • Most of the guilds in Fairy Tail have a mythical motif in their name, including the titular Fairy Tail (fairies), Quatro Cerberos, Blue Pegasus, Lamia Scale, Grimoire Heart (Devils), Phantom Lord and recently Sabertooth and Mermaid Heel.

Comics

  • HYDRA, the ersatz SPECTRE (who incidentally use the very similar motif of the octopuss), in the Marvel Universe.

Film

Literature

  • Mayland Long (Oolong) from the novel Tea With The Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy.
  • Several characters in The Circus of Doctor Lao.
  • The dragon Smaug in The Hobbit.
  • The Ordo Hydra, another conspiracy group, in the Inquistion War Trilogy by Ian Watson ( a series of Warhammer 40000 novels). They are a secret group in the already secret group of the Ordo Malleus who are already part of the "mostly ignored of by the general population" group, the Inquisition. They are really secretive.

Tabletop Games

  1. (The plebeians in Coriolanus are called a Hydra.)
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